ETSU Bluegrass announces Artists in Residence for 2021/22

The Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music Studies program at East Tennessee State University has announced their Artist in Residence appointments for the 2021-’22 academic year.

Brittany Haas and Mike Compton have been named to this faculty position after an exhaustive process of interviews with major artists in our music. Both will provide on campus, in person instruction starting in August during the fall semester for ETSU students. These are one year appointments, which can be renewed, and program Director Dan Boner tells us that the Artist in Residence program will be an ongoing part of their curriculum, with new appointments announced as they are made.

Despite her relative youth, Haas has many years as a performer under her belt. She began with Darol Anger’s Republic of String at 14 years of age, and released a debut recording at 17. While earning a degree in Evolutionary Biology with a minor in Music at Princeton, she toured and recorded with genre-bending string band, Crooked Still. An in demand session fiddle player, she has appeared frequently in television and films, and currently plays in Hawktail with Paul Kowert, Jordan Tice, and Dominick Leslie.

Brittany says that she is eager to start working with the wide range of students in the ETSU program.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the faculty of ETSU as an artist in residence with their historic program. Their offerings in bluegrass, old-time, and roots music studies are ever-expanding, and I can’t wait to delve into these areas with the students. To explore these traditions with college learners will be exciting as well as inspiring and challenging. I look forward to helping the students along in their musical journeys, playing music with them, and asking questions about what it means to be a musician, and where we can go with our collective music-making and studies. Thanks to ETSU for this great opportunity!”

Compton has been involved with bluegrass music his entire adult life. Befriending Bill Monroe towards the end of the great man’s life, Mike had the opportunity to study directly with Bill, who served as a mentor passing down his groundbreaking mandolin style. Since that time, Mike has been at the forefront of preserving and teaching others to master Monroe’s quirky sense of rhythm and distinctive closed position techniques. He runs the annual Monroe Mandolin Camp near Nashville each September which not only shares the music of Big Mon for mandolinists, but has also expanded to include the other instruments in the bluegrass band.

But he’s not just an exceptional instructor. Mike is also a first rate player with credits like Nashville Bluegrass Band and Soggy Bottom Boys, and has recorded with country stars Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Patty Loveless, and rock music luminaries like Sting, Gregg Allman, and Elvis Costello. You can also see him performing as a solo artist and in duet with Joe Newberry.

Like Brittany, he is rarin’ to go this fall.

“I’m greatly looking forward to being a part of the ETSU Appalachian Studies program, and bringing the flavor and fire of Southeastern musical styles to a new generation of players, writers, and artists. This is an amazing opportunity to help further the music and bring an understanding of the lifestyle of a musician and what it all entails. I know the energy will be a positive step for us to all forget about 2020 and move ahead in a positive and vibrant fashion, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Boner tells us that Haas and Compton will teach bands, offer private lessons, and offer seminars each week for students. Mike will teach a seminar called, “Living Your Life As An Artist,” while Brittany will offer one with Roy Andrade called “Art of Interpretation,” about recreating older, traditional material for old time, bluegrass, or modern acoustic music. They will each also present a concert or lecture open to the public during their appointment.

The courses and lessons offered by the Artists in Residence will be open to all ETSU students during the Fall 2021 and the Spring 2022 semesters.

The Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music Studies team has been working for years to make this program a reality, and it will provide a marvelous opportunity to those studying there.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.